My experience studying at Parsons in New York was an exciting yet daunting experience. I felt at ease knowing we spoke the same language and there wouldn’t be any difficulty there.
I soon found out that wasn’t completely the case as numerous words we use in the UK are completely unheard of in the USA. Such as the word ‘knackered’, they hadn’t a clue what I was talking about.
The education system in America couldn’t differ more from the European education system. The level of organisation within the university was amazing.
I found it difficult at first adjusting to their way of teaching. Each week there was a set homework that had to be in for the following class. Having specific classes with different professors was something that took me time to adjust to. I had to attend seven classes a week, all at 3 hours long.
Attendance at university in the UK is a real problem, something I can’t understand when the students are paying so much money to be there. Parson’s way of clocking attendance was brilliant, if you missed three or more classes you were kicked out of that class and didn’t gain any credits. People complained but it worked.
The teaching was unflawed, from not knowing how to pattern make or drape or make shoes etc I completed four garments and a pair of shoes and much more in just one semester. I have left Parsons with a whole new set of skills of which I will incorporate into my Chelsea work.
I received excellent grades at the end of the semester of which I am very proud of. However there were challenges along the way. First of all being plunged into a subject I had never studied before, Fashion design and getting out of the independent way I have always been used to working in. The professors were very particular about how they wanted things presented and what sort of things we were able to make and learn. I didn’t enjoy not being able to get stuck into a project. Due to the work load and the marking of technical ability there wasn’t time to get into a project and have weeks of research. I had to stop myself or else I would have had far too much work. The work load was insane. I am a hard working student however the workload Parsons put on students I feel was too much for one semester, people slept at uni as they felt they didn’t have enough time complete all that needed to be done. I had seven finals to complete in just over two weeks.
The key thing I will bring back to my practice at Chelsea is my new found knowledge in Fashion design. Although I may not want to become a fashion designer, if I am a textile designer in a fashion company it is important to understand all areas of the process within that company. My overall experience was amazing. Living in a different environment for such a long time and learning to adapt to the fast pace living in New York was exciting and life changing. I fell in love with New York and it is now my aim to work there after I graduate. Parsons was even more international than UAL, meaning I met people from all over the world, making contacts for my future career. It was scary to see how many talented young designers there are. Parsons is a much bigger university than Chelsea, with the courses holding 300 students. It was liberating to see each students incredible work ethic. I am so grateful to have had this experience, not only to acquire a whole new set of skills but to bring me closer to reality of how hard I will have to work to achieve my dreams and goals.
My opinion of American education system is that I feel they need to let their students have more of their own creative input into their projects. However their teaching and organisation of the university is something I think European Universities need to take on board. The perfect course would be if Parsons and Chelsea met somewhere in the middle. More guidance from Chelsea and more independence given to students from Parsons. With these thoughts in mind, I guess these are the facts that separate the two universities, it would have been a shame if Parsons ran in exactly the same way as Chelsea as I wouldn’t have learnt as many new things as I have. I encourage anyone who is currently studying at a university that offers a study abroad programme to apply for it. Not only do you learn more academically and technically, you grow as a person and have life experiences that are invaluable.